Monday, 23 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms

It’s beginning to feel like the Kamen Rider Gaim train will never end. It’s been over a year since the series came to a close, yet it seems to still be going strong in the form of the various Gaim Gaiden DVD/BD specials and accompanying merchandise. Bandai Tamashii Nations is still yet to squeeze out the entire main cast in the S.H. Figuarts line as well, but the end of 2015 sees them coming pretty close. Finally rounding off the initial quartet of New Generation/Energy Riders, the next character to join the line is the devious Lockseed dealer Sid – aka Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms! Another Tamashii Web Exclusive, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for the character to get released despite Sid appearing right from the start of the show. Still, when you’ve got a cast as big as Gaim’s it’s no surprise that some releases are going to come later than others.

The above packaging must be pretty damn familiar to S.H. Figuarts collectors by now. After all, out of the nine web exclusive figures that have come out of Kamen Rider Gaim so far only one of them has had a particularly notable change in style and even that was mostly different colours. Anyway, Sigurd comes in the usual white-and-appropriate-fruit-colour (in this case, cherry red) box featuring a big picture of the figure on the front against a cherry cross-section backdrop. The back has a few more pictures, this time with a backdrop of Sigurd's personal emblem. The fact that each Gaim Rider has their own personal insignia has always been a favourite feature of mine - especially on the Energy Lockseed Riders where it actually appears on their armour.  Inside the figure and it's accessories are spread across a single clear plastic tray.

Though he may be the fourth and final member of the New Generation/Energy Riders quartet, Kamen Rider Sigurd is a rather unique case in that his design is inspired by Viking warriors (or at least, general depictions of Vikings) rather than the usual sources of samurai, knights or Chinese soldiers. This doesn't just translate to his large "horned" helmet, but also the bands around the wrists and shins, which on the actual suit are covered in fur. Now fur is a rather difficult thing to replicate on a plastic toy, so while Tamashii Nations have tried to make the best of a bad situation the end result doesn't have quite the same effect. Grey plastic lumps with grooves and texture to look like fur - the kind of thing you've probably seen before on cheaper action figures of completely furry characters. Still, that's only a very small part of the design and it's hard to hold too much against it when the rest of the figure looks so damn good. The light grey undersuit works brilliantly with the bright red Cherry Energy Arms, which also perfectly matches his Genesis Driver and Sonic Arrow weapon. Perhaps even more vibrant is the metallic green used for the various 'stalks' protruding from the suit, which arguably stand out the most in this sea of greys, silver, black and red.

My favourite element of Sigurd however is undoubtedly the helmet. With the toy in hand you get a proper sense of just how well-designed it is with the cherries dotted around the back with protruding stalk horns. It still amazes me how so many great designs came out of the unlikely combination of 'historical armours' and 'fruit'.

The articulation is also up to the usual excellent S.H. Figuarts standard, with the only real area of concern naturally being the giant cherry-shaped shoulder pad sitting atop Sigurd's right arm. Thanks to the ball-joint connecting it to the arm there is some clearance to get the arm into higher positions, but its size still hinders it somewhat. Other than that you're in for the usual treat of a figure fully loaded with all the articulation you could ever want, allowing it to pull off all kinds of fantastic poses.

If you’ve been collecting these figures or been following these reviews at all, you’ll likely already know what the drill is when it comes to accessories. The unfortunate truth is that since all of the Energy Riders share the same weapons, the accessories are near identical – and this can get pretty boring indeed when you’ve experienced them half a dozen times already. Anyway, Sigurd comes packed with seven additional hands (making a total of nine hands) and two versions of the Sonic Arrow – one standard and one drawn back. This will mark the sixth figure in the line to have come with these weapons, so it’s fair to say I’ve pretty much exhausted any comments I have on them by this point.

Then of course to round things off there are also two versions of the Cherry Energy Lockseed – inert (closed) and activated (opened). Both Lockseeds can either be connected to the Genesis Driver or Sonic Arrow, along with any other of the Kamen Rider Gaim weapons that have a designated Lockseed slot. The inclusion of these was completely expected as almost every other Gaim figure has come with two versions of their Lockseed, however Bandai really could have gone the extra mile here by also including the Sid Lockseed. Making a few brief appearances in the show, this was a unique piece that could take automatically take control of Lockseed vehicles autonomously. It would have been the perfect piece to throw in with Sigurd, but alas that was clearly not meant to be. Not deal breaking by any means, but puzzling when you remember that Bravo came with something as inconsequential as a wine glass.

Make no mistake the Kamen Rider Gaim figures are just as great quality-wise as they ever were, but after 18 different figures so far (with more to come) it’s got to the point where they need to start having a bit more variety to them to remain interesting. Sigurd doesn’t quite have that uniqueness. It’s a fantastic figure and ever so satisfying to have a full line-up of Yggdrasil’s Energy Riders, but collectors will have experienced this so many times before they’ll know EXACTLY what to expect. If you’re a casual buyer however and have barely experience what Gaim has to offer, Sigurd should prove to be a real cherry.

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